A lackluster, badly acted attempt at horror-comedy that fails to deliver either the promised horror or comedy.
The Night Sitter is as bad as its trailer makes it out to be. A con artist posing as a babysitter goes to a rich man’s house with the intent of robbing him. However, this isn’t an easy gig as the rich man turns out to be a collector of occult artifacts and is a wannabe reality tv star with ulterior motives. One of the children being looked after unwittingly summons a trio of witches known as The Three Mothers and things turn into a drawn out bloodbath for all those trapped inside the huge house. I’m fully aware this movie isn’t meant to be a serious horror film, but having self-awareness doesn’t excuse its badness and I wish I’d consumed some alcohol beforehand to help me get through it.
Directed by the writer/director duo Abiel Bruhn and John Rocco (A Not So Pleasant Surprise, Just Say No), The Night Sitter starts with Amber (Elyse Dufour) conning her way into a babysitting job for wealthy reality star wannabe Ted Hooper (Joe Walz). Ted is a widower living with his troubled and reclusive son Kevin (Jack Champion) – who, like many children in horror films, draws creepy and disturbing images on an endless supply of drawing paper. It’s clear to Amber there’s something valuable hidden in a room behind a locked wooden door and she plans to rob it of its valuable contents once Ted has left with his date, Charlotte (Deanna Meske).
Assisting her on the robbery is Rod (Jermaine Rivers), the driver of the truck they intend to use to clean out the house, Rod’s girlfriend Lindsey (Amber Neukum) who’s there for the rush of stealing, and Martin (J. Benedict Larmore), the lovesick and cowardly loser yearning to be Amber’s boyfriend.
Luckily (or not so lucky) for these criminal imbeciles, Charlotte’s son Ronnie (Bailey Campbell) has already found the secret key to the mysterious wooden door and convinces Kevin to go inside with him to explore its contents. Once inside the boys find a magical evil book and it’s not long before – surprise surprise – they accidentally unleash The Three Mothers – evil witches who lust for the blood of children. With a spell preventing anybody from leaving the house, our heroes (?) must find a way to survive their ordeal or become victims for these supernatural hags.
But don’t worry: Vincent (Ben Barlow), the pothead creeper living in the garage across the street, has some convenient knowledge of the occult that might help them survive the night, just like pothead creepers always seem to.
Before I get to the acting, I want to say I totally acknowledge The Night Sitter is a horror (cough) comedy that isn’t intended to be particularly serious. Having said that, I still found the performances to be woeful, subpar and downright cringeworthy in parts. There are definitely contenders for Razzies here. And since there aren’t any good standout performances I’m going to highlight the actors who stood out for all the wrong reasons.
The most obvious and painful “acting” performance was given by Bailey Campbell, who plays Ronnie. I know he’s a kid and I shouldn’t say that a kid actor sucks – but does he ever suck. I was embarrassed for him in every scene and I don’t know how he landed this gig because he’s simply terrible. He’s meant to be the funny naughty child – the opposite of mopey, reclusive Kevin – yet his performance comes across so forced, so unnatural and so annoying that I hoped his character would be killed off early.
Amber Neukum also made me cringe as she tried so hard to be the sexy girlfriend possessed by the evil of the witches. Moments of horror where she’s supposed to be menacing, creepy or scary were simply laughable and embarrassing as she doesn’t possess the skills to pull off crazy monster freak-out moments like those found in a superior series like Ash vs The Evil Dead. Some of you may say, “Hey Christian, you said it was laughable and this is a Horror/Comedy. What’s your problem?” But it’s not laughable in the good/bad. It’s laughable in the bad/bad way.
Abiel Bruhn and John Rocco haven’t created a particularly good film. But where they failed in their ability to write a scary and/or funny script and failed in casting and directing good performances from their actors, they did do a respectable job giving this film a stylised look and feel, especially with atmospheric lighting and sound. You really notice their use of red, green, yellow and blue. It’s the colors the thieves are wearing. It’s blatantly used in very unnatural ways with lighting doorways, rooms and different areas of the house. It’s so in-your-face that it somehow works. I mean, I didn’t particularly like it, but it does create a unique look that stands out visually from most other low-budget horror movies I’ve watched.
Additionally, the sound is taken straight out of the 80s, creating a soundscape similar in vein to how the Netflix series Stranger Things does it. As with the film’s approach to lighting, however, it’s much more direct and really helped create that cheesy horror/comedy vibe they were trying to go for. Honestly, the sound is the only thing I really liked about the film.
The Night Sitter is a pretty bad movie, failing to deliver either the horror or comedy you’d want from a self-styled horror-comedy. I usually like low-budget horror movies (even the bad ones), but there’s not much here worth recommending and I can’t ever imagine wanting to watch it again. While the premise is solid, horrible acting and annoying characters are never a good combination, despite the surprisingly high (and surprisingly bloody) body count. Save your money and seek out a genuine 80s-style horror-comedy instead, preferably one where the laughs aren’t intentional and the most terrifying thing isn’t watching a group of bad actors acting badly.
- MPAA Rating: NR
- Release Date: 08/06/2019
- Distributor: Uncork’d Entertainment
Originally published on August 07 2019 at https://www.popzara.com/movies/vod-reviews/the-night-sitter-2019/